Looking for a challenging hike in Acadia National Park? Head to South Bubble Mountain from Jordan Pond for a rock scrambling adventure! Make sure to check out Bubble Rock and North Bubble.
Are you looking for a challenging hike in Acadia?
Don't worry, the park has plenty of those!
One of my favorite Acadia hikes is the trail up South Bubble Mountain.
This guide will walk you through the trail, plus give you some options to avoid the crowded section of the Jordan Pond Path.
Getting to the Bubbles Trail
There's more than one way to arrive at the Bubbles Trail (a.k.a. the trail to Bubble Rock and the South Bubble Summit).
This trail guide follows a route from Jordan Pond, because the easy stroll along Jordan Pond is just so pretty!
However, the Jordan Pond parking area was bigger (and where we finally found an open space), and this is a nice way to see both the iconic pond and hike the Bubbles all at once.
If you'd prefer to skip the parking dilemma, try taking Acadia's Island Explorer park shuttle.
How Long Is the Trail to South Bubble?
As mentioned, there are a few different ways to get to the summit of South Bubble. I definitely recommend buying an Acadia trail map before going so that you can adjust your hike as needed and stay found.
From the Jordan Pond Path Trailhead, you can hike to both South Bubble and North Bubble in a 5-mile trail loop (3.3 miles of easy trail on the Jordan Pond Path and 1.7 miles of more difficult trails on the Bubbles). This is the route this trail guide will follow.
For a slightly shorter hike, skip North Bubble. You'll only have 0.9 miles of the difficult trails (4.2 miles total with Jordan Pond added in).
For a much shorter hike, you can also access the Jordan Pond side of Bubbles Trail from the Bubbles parking lot instead of from the Jordan Pond Path.
Is This a Difficult Trail?
This trail is rated as moderately difficult, but depending on your fitness level and comfort with rock scrambling, it could be a difficult trail.
The Bubbles trail includes some semi-technical rock scrambling through a notch in the mountain.
Can I Skip the Rock Scrambling Section?
To skip the rock scrambling portion, you'll want to avoid Bubbles Trail to South Bubble Mountain. Instead, stick to the Bubbles Divide trail, branching off from there to the Bubble summits.
There are a few different ways to reach the Bubbles from Bubbles Divide. I recommend referring to your Acadia trail map and finding your route of choice.
Should I Hike This if I'm Afraid of Heights?
That's a hard question to answer.
On the rock scrambling portion of the hike, there are a few exposed cliff edges that got my heart racing.
That said, I did not find this trail as nerve-wracking as the Beehive trail (the only one of Acadia's rung and ladder trails that I attempted).
If you're very afraid of heights, you probably won't enjoy this hike. But if you're only a little afraid of heights, this trail might be fine for you.
What Should I Bring on the Hike?
First, make sure you've got your Acadia trail map.
Also, make sure you're wearing shoes with good traction, such as a hiking boot.
I rounded up my favorite hiking shoes and boots for women if you're in the market for new ones!
Since this is a challenging trail, it's a good idea to bring along water.
If you bring a trekking pole, make sure you can strap it to a daypack for the rock scramble. I was glad I brought mine along to help with the rocky downhill portion.
Hiking to South Bubble Mountain via Jordan Pond
Start by walking from the parking area towards Jordan Pond.
Once you reach the pond, turn right to go counter-clockwise along the Jordan Pond Path.
This section of the hike will be a breeze.
Pretty soon, you'll pass a trail marker pointing the way to Bubble Rock.
You're on the right path!
Take time to watch for birds on the water.
We saw a cormorant!
When you reach the Bubbles Trail sign, turn right.
And get ready for things to get more difficult!
Follow the blue trail blazes and begin hiking up, up and up.
This section is a little challenging, but it's not very long.
The South Bubble Rock Scramble
When you reach the top of the rocky path, the trees will begin to clear and you'll have a gorgeous view of Jordan Pond.
Almost as soon as you've got a good view of the pond, you'll also get a good view of the rock scramble ahead.
To continue on the trail, you'll need to climb up and over a notch in the mountain.
This is where the real fun begins!
Once you've reached the top of the scramble, look to your left.
The trail goes up and over here too.
You'll find that the rock has lots of hand and footholds.
There's even a ladder rung to help you out in one section.
South Bubble Summit
When you make it to the top of the rock scramble, you'll see stairs ahead on the trail.
From this point on, the trail is much easier.
You'll pass a small boulder, and you might wonder if it's Bubble Rock.
It's not Bubble Rock.
The views on this trail just keep getting better and better!
Before you know it, you'll arrive at the South Bubble summit.
Pat yourself on the back, and then look for the nearby Bubble Rock trail marker.
Follow the marker towards Bubble Rock.
Bubble Rock is pictured below.
It's a massive boulder perched precariously on the edge of the mountain.
Once you're there, you (don't have to but totally should) walk over to the boulder and pose underneath it.
Full discloser, you may have to wait in line for this picture. We had a wait even though it was not a busy day on the mountain.
After Bubble Rock, continue down the path.
Bubbles Divide to North Bubble
If you'd like to visit North Bubble too, turn right onto Bubbles Divide and then follow the sign to North Bubble.
The trail to North Bubble isn't quite as exciting as the trail to South Bubble, but it's still a pretty view and only takes a few minutes to hike.
This portion of the path is mostly stone.
Now you can see Jordan Pond from the North Bubble summit too!
Is it even prettier from here? It might be.
Bubbles Divide to Jordan Pond
After summiting North Bubble, head back the way you came down and turn right onto Bubbles Divide toward Jordan Pond.
This rocky downhill section was my least favorite part of the hike, but it's not too long.
Jordan Pond to the Trailhead
When you reach Jordan Pond, you've got a choice to make.
If you're in a hurry or want to avoid crowds, I highly recommend turning left and walking back the way you came on Jordan Pond instead of trying to finish the pond loop.
The second half of Jordan Pond can get quite crowded with lots of traffic jams.
If you decide to finish the pond loop, you'll continue over a foot bridge and a rocky stretch of the path.
And then, the reason for the traffic jam.
The boardwalk is impressive, but it's one-lane with no room for passing. There are a few platforms on the side of the boardwalk to allow for passing, but these are few and far between.
You'll be on the boardwalk almost the entire way back to the trailhead.
Whichever way you go on the Jordan Pond Path, you'll end up back at the trailhead.
Head back to your car (or the shuttle!) and enjoy the rest of your time in Acadia.